Solicitor Linda Box 'stole from the dead'
A solicitor who stole £4m from client accounts, including from the estates of dead people and the Church of England, has been jailed for seven years.
Linda Box, 67, admitted 12 offences of fraud, theft and forgery while working as a senior partner at Dixon, Coles and Gill solicitors in Wakefield.
She was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court for the deception, which covered a 12-year period.
Box spent the money on shopping sprees, expensive hotels, and holidays.
Box, of Halifax Road, Dewsbury, took more than £63,000 from the Church of England while acting as a registrar for the Diocese of Wakefield, the court heard.
Simon Higginbotham, from the CPS Specialist Fraud Division, said: "Linda Box used her position as a trusted partner in a law firm to steal millions of pounds from the estates of those who had died, depriving their grieving friends and families of their rightful inheritance.
"She also abused her senior position of responsibility within the Church of England by stealing," he said.
The court heard Box used the money she stole on shopping sprees, expensive hotels, vintage wines and to pay off multiple mortgages.
She also paid more than £230,000 to a marketing and public relations firm which did work for her husband's firm of funeral directors.
Speaking after sentencing, Det Insp Dan Tillett, of West Yorkshire Police, said: "She was incredibly deceitful, taking cash from the estates of the deceased and using it as her own to fund her lavish lifestyle.
"She preyed on vulnerable people at one of the most difficult times of their lives," he said.
Dixon, Coles and Gill, a 200-year-old firm that had offices in Wakefield and Horbury, was closed after a fraud investigation was launched by police in January 2016.
The premises have since been sold off and staff made redundant.